Even teachers get summer reading, and the Sinai Akiba faculty were given reading assignments to discuss at their annual staff retreat. But, learning isn't always the result of assignments, and a group of teachers decided to do a bit more as part of a special summer book club.
The Middle School teachers who chose to participate read the book "Empower - What Happens When Students Own Their Learning," by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani. In his note to teachers, Hinko wrote, "I hope you find this book to be not just motivational and inspirational about the capacity each of the unique students has within them, but I also hope that you have a tangible takeaway or two to help you improve your craft as an educator." He also offered some questions for the readers to ponder as they consumed the text. This title provides educators with a rationale and tangible strategies to create a classroom environment where students are encouraged to discover, create, and find & solve problems-- all necessary skills of the 21st century.
Lower School teachers who chose to participate in the summer reading club — co-facilitated by Hinko and Ms. MaryLynne Kerman, title here — read the book “Crafting Digital Writing” by Troy Hicks. In the book, Troy spells out several compelling rationales for the importance of teaching our students digital reading and writing techniques and provides resources for teachers. "He has been a leader and visionary in the field for almost a decade," shared Hinko, "This summer, I was lucky enough to spend a couple of hours with him while I was attending a conference. He graciously agreed to join us via Skype all the way from Michigan during our book study. It was an enlightening afternoon and we are looking forward to growing our digital publishing initiatives again this year. Thank you, Troy!"
According to Ms. Karli Phillips, Second Grade Teacher, “It was motivating to speak to the author of our summer reading book to elaborate on specific questions we had, discuss ideas that were inspired by what was written, and learn about tools that would be useful for our grade levels.” She noted that both the book and Troy Hicks gave them ideas about how to integrate technology into the reading and writing process to enhance learning that is already taking place in each classroom. “Using technology and teaching about media in purposeful ways will help our students be prepared for the path ahead of them,” Phillips added.
“What's amazing about our school,” shared Kerman, “is when we hear about a new tech tool from a professional book, journal, or word of mouth, we have amazing tech educators like Doug and Chasen [Todd, Technology and Innovation Lab Teacher] who can test them out for us and show us the ropes so that it's easier for us to use them!”
At Sinai Akiba, professional development is of the utmost importance, and the School’s investment helps make exciting initiatives like these possible. In fact, 2 percent of the School’s operating expenses is invested in professional development. This funding allows for teachers to engage in conferences and workshops to expand their knowledge and experience, and the budget also allows the School to cover the cost of the books for the Book Club.